Evolution of Functional Specialization in a Morphologically Homogeneous Robot
Proceedings of the 11th Annual conference on Genetic and evolutionary computation, , 89-96, 2009
Abstract: A central tenet of embodied artificial intelligence is that intelligent behavior arises out of the coupled dynamics between an agent’s body, brain and environment. It follows that the complexity of an agents’s controller and morphology must match the complexity of a given task. However, more complex task environments require the agent to exhibit different behaviors, which raises the question as to how to distribute responsibility for these behaviors across the agents’s controller and morphology. In this work a robot is trained to locomote and manipulate an object, but the assumption of functional specialization is relaxed: the robot has a segmented body plan in which the front segment may participate in locomotion and object manipulation, or it may specialize to only participate in object manipulation. In this way, selection pressure dictates the presence and degree of functional specialization rather than such specialization being enforced a priori. It is shown that for the given task, evolution tends to produce functionally specialized controllers, even though successful generalized controllers can also be evolved. Moreover, the robot’s initial conditions and training order have little effect on the frequency of finding specialized controllers, while the inclusion of additional proprioceptive feedback increases this frequency.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).